Dún Laoghaire councillors block transfer to Land Development Agency

Agency wants to build hundreds of affordable rental homes near Shankill in south Dublin

Councillors in Dún Laoghaire have voted to block the Land Development Agency (LDA) from taking over a site for up to 600 homes near Shankill in south Dublin.

The State development agency, set up last year to oversee the construction of social and private housing on public land, wants to build its first “cost rental” estate on lands surrounding Shanganagh Castle, a former juvenile prison owned by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Under the cost rental scheme, homes would be available to rent to low- and middle-income workers based on the cost of providing the housing and not market rates.

Workers earning up to €50,000, or €75,000 as a couple, would be eligible for the scheme.

At Shanganagh the LDA said it would offer homes to rent at almost 30 per cent below market rates. A typical monthly rent for a two-bed apartment would be approximately €1,300 a month compared to a local market rate of €1,850, the agency said.

Under the LDA plans at least 300 of the homes would be “cost rental” accommodation, 200 homes would be used for social housing, with the remaining homes expected for be offered for sale.

However, councillors in Dún Laoghaire last month voted against allowing the agency to take over the land development. Council chair Ossian Smyth had proposed a motion calling for the council chief executive to enter into discussions with the LDA with a view to the agency "taking over the development of the Shanganagh Castle lands in Shankill with immediate effect".

Councillors voted 21 to nine against the proposal. Mr Smyth also voted against, having offered to withdraw the motion when it was clear the council was opposed to releasing the land to the LDA.

Speaking after the meeting, Sinn Féin councillor Shane O’Brien said the council had already planned its own development for lands, which would involve a mix of social housing and affordable housing for sale, and it did not want the LDA to “take ownership” of the site.

“I would have serious concerns about the LDA’s cost rental proposals. €1,350 for a two bed is not an affordable rent for the majority of people.”

The LDA has said it does not have to take ownership of land to facilitate development.

Land portfolio

Separately the agency has started the process of developing the first site that is already within its portfolio of land. The agency is seeking a design team to develop 200 homes at Hacketstown in Skerries in north Dublin.

Approximately a quarter of the homes are expected to be used for social housing and another quarter for affordable housing. Construction is expected to start within the next year.

Once selected the architect-led design team will subsequently work on LDA developments in Balbriggan, Naas, Cork and Dundrum, with the total value of the contract expected to be in the region of €10 million.

Fingal County Council had previously owned the seven-hectare Skerries site, but ownership was transferred to the Government's Housing Agency after the council's debts on the lands rose to €7 million.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times